Saturday, February 12, 2011


What do you do when your 82 year old mother decides to go on a 10 day tour of the middle east? A region wrecked in political turmoil. And freezing as well - at this time of year.

I spent a week before her departure bringing her to the mall in search for warm winter clothing......thermal underwear, a  woollen sweater, hat, scarf, woollen socks and a pair of Hush Puppies. I lent her my favourite winter coat. It draped over her quite nicely although she was much smaller than I am. I bought her a set of compression bags to get all the air out of thick clothing so she had more room for other things in her suitcase. As I rolled the bag and all the air hissed out I wondered aloud if she would be able to do it herself when she repacked her suitcases at the intermittent stops along her tour. She answered in the emphatic affirmative. I could smell her tenacity. I'm forever disturbed.

This trip had been quite unexpected and sudden. A friend had pulled her aside at the market one morning and excited her into going to Jordan, Syria and Palestine. My children were very amused when I told them. And they had asked why on earth and at this time? Little do they know. Never plant ideas into my mother's head.

She walks with slow, steady and resolute steps and often I 'll have to slow down so that I could walk abreast with her. I feel not quite normal because I'm an extremely fast walker and to slow down seems like an awful waste of time. But she seems to have settled herself at that speed. Perhaps as a result of age. Or height. Or character. Small. But sure. So sure that freezing point doesn't make her bat an eyelid. That the most unstable political conditions is brushed off with a wave of a hand. That she is eighty and without a travel or health insurance makes no difference in her choice of activities.

My brother had lent her a hard type suitcase and a hard type hand luggage. Both in bright flashy red. The big one had one quirky lock where you had to smack the corner of the case before the lock caught. I told her to sit on it if she had a problem instead of smacking it with her 82 year old hand. Though not in so many words.

Finally H disconnected the battery of her car and I locked the doors of her apartment and doubled checked them. But five minutes into the drive we had to go back for her jacket. She had left it on the kitchen stool. Should I worry? Then we drove the Hyundai the forty-five minutes to the airport, through jams, night lights, tolls and some supplications that I saw her making.

But finally she went off with Happy, Excited and Can't Wait printed right across her forehead. They were flashing like neon signs. I went around telling whomever I knew in the group to take good care of her, her bags and her. While she beamed ecstatically. Quite unperturbed.

As we walked through the bubble doors of KLIA I felt a wave of hot, humid air sweep in. And I remembered that my daughter will be going to India on a ten day trip a few days from today. She too will be going with a group of friends. Backpacking. I saw her counting a stack of rupee notes the other day. A few days before she resumed mugging for her  Finance paper for her MBA. I looked at the stack, fingered it and asked if she will be bringing anti-diarrhea pills as well. She answered with a big roll of dark, adamant eyes. I took that as a yes. I think. Hope. I could smell her tenacity.

Two distinct generations on either side of me going seperate ways, half way across the world, to almost extreme locations. I am forever throwing my hands up at these two women. I wonder if I should shake my head in disbelief or burn a hole in my heart with envy. Because here I am debating if I should get off the couch and get on with my nightmare journey: The Gym. 

The intrepid gene has skipped a generation. Me. Wimp.


  1. Zurin, I salute your mother! I coo mend her for staying active and excited. My own parents are less adventurous and prefer to stay in their comfort zone. I pray when I get older, I too, will have enough spunk to grab life by it's horns :)

  2. Zurin, your mom is still strong and active which is good...though it does make you worry a bit to travel to the middle east at this time. But don't worry, I am sure her friends will take good care of her :) I think the same as Shirley...that when I grow old I too will have enough spunk to grab life by it's horn :) and that my kids will allow me to travel with friends :)

    p/s love reading this :)